Duke Spirit frontwoman Liela Moss inspires, inspired by fashion 

click to enlarge The Duke Spirit plays Slim’s on Monday; the band’s latest recording is “Bruiser.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • The Duke Spirit plays Slim’s on Monday; the band’s latest recording is “Bruiser.”

Looking back, Duke Spirit frontwoman Liela Moss is still amazed at the remarkable chain of events set in motion by the fashion world’s word-of-mouth.

When stylist Sherry Lamden was wowed by the band’s set at Glastonbury a few years ago, she conveyed her enthusiasm to her boss, Alexander McQueen, the late visionary designer. 

“She got him interested in the idea of putting out a range of clothes anchored in our music, so I guess it all came from a simple conversation, really,” says the singer, who soon had an entire McQ Alexander McQueen line of rock wear at Target, including a T-shirt with her own then-blond-bombshell visage.

Moss — who brings The Duke Spirit to San Francisco this week — also caught the attention of other top designers such as Antonio Berardi and Phillip Lim.

It’s taught her an important lesson.

Just as her group’s latest riff-fest,  “Bruiser,” was influenced by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, she says, “I’ve realized that people who design clothes actually listen to music while they’re creating, and sometimes the slightest thing you’ve said or the melody itself just captures their imagination. A reaction from them, and then you getting to wear their clothes, is really an absolute pure exchange. Things that happen in a flash like that are much more authentic.”

But the more Moss studied her face on that McQ top, the deeper she dove into her analysis of beauty.

“I was just over the whole nuclear-blond look, so now my hair is a more natural maple-syrup color,” she says.

“Because I’d started asking serious questions of myself, like, ‘Why would I do things to alter what was already there, physically? But as long as you’re healthy and eating well, then the answer is, ‘Yeah, I’m perfect.’”

The Brit is a true original, however. Ever since the fine arts major formed her outfit in college in 2003 with guitarist Luke Ford and bassist Toby Butler, she has put a dreamy, pneumatic topspin on sludge-metal dirges, such as “Villain” “Surrender” and “Cherry Tree” on “Bruiser.”

The uniquely dark sound works well with other media, too; Their creepy “Creature” provides sound on the new “Batman: Arkham City” video game. “Those things pay the rent,” Moss says.

Moss never got to meet the man she inspired. Flown into Paris for one of McQueen’s final shows before his 2010 passing, she was heading backstage to meet him when a crush of fans blocked her path.

“He apparently was pretty shy, so he ducked out of there and we missed him,” she says. “Then suddenly, it was all over. That was the saddest part.”

If you go

The Duke Spirit
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Tickets: $18
Contact: (415) 522-0333, www.slimstickets.com

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Tom Lanham

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